Pasadena, California

A repeat post from July 2013. . .
1930 Pasadena garden, Archives of American Gardens, Smithsonian Institution Unidentified garden in Pasadena, California, 1930, by Diggers Garden Club, via Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection, Smithsonian Institution Commons on flickr.

Simple, elegant, and a little mysterious. . .

The Diggers Garden Club was founded in 1924 and still exists today.  It is a member of the Garden Club of America (which celebrated its centennial in 2013).

At its 75th anniversary, the GCA donated 3,000 glass lantern slides (of which this is one) and over 30,000 film slides to the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens.  Its members continue to contribute to the collection, which now has over 60,000 images.

Many of the gardens pictured in the Archives’ slides are unidentified.  The Smithsonian is asking the public’s help in finding names and locations.  Click here to view its “Mystery Gardens Initiative.”

I do think a garden should be seductive. The strength of any garden is its ability to take you away.

— David L. Culp, in “3,000 Plants, and Then Some,” The New York Times.

The castle

smithsonian-castle-in-snow-1967-smithsonian-on-flickrSmithsonian Institution Building in the snow, Washington, D.C., 1967, photographer unknown, via Smithsonian Institution Commons on flickr.

Two to six inches of snow (and some sleet) are forecast for Washington today.

O! wonderful for weight and whiteness!
Ideolog whose absolutes
Are always proven right
By white and then
More white and white again. . .

— Tom Disch, from “Ode to a Blizzard

The Downing Urn

Still looking through some photos that I took this fall, when we visited Washington, D.C. . .

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I admired the Andrew Jackson Downing Urn in the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Institution Castle. It was designed by Downing’s architectural partner, Calvert Vaux, and sculpted from marble by Robert E. Launitz several years after Downing’s death.

In 1850, Andrew Jackson Downing transformed the Mall into the nation’s first landscaped public park using informal, romantic arrangements of circular carriage drives and plantings of rare American trees. Downing’s design endured until 1934, when the Mall was restored to Pierre L’Enfant’s 1791 plan. Downing (1815-1852), the father of American landscape architecture, also designed the White House and Capitol grounds.

The memorial urn stood on the Mall near the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History for 109 years (1856-1965). In 1972, it was restored and placed on the lawn east of the Smithsonian Building (“Castle”) flag tower. In 1987, it was relocated to the Rose Garden at the Castle’s east door. The urn was moved to its location in the Enid A. Haupt Garden in 1989.”

– text of the plaque near the foot of the urn’s pedestal

I wonder where the urn will go in the new design plans for the area, recently released by the Smithsonian.

Continue reading “The Downing Urn”

The Sunday porch: as backdrop

What better setting for some summertime snapshots than a charming porch dripping with vines?

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These are the Cabot children (and probably their mother), photographed by Thomas Warren Sears and via the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Thomas Warren Sears Collection.*

The Archives’ website says that these images were taken in 1930, but I would guess between 1900 and 1910, based on the clothing.

Sears studied landscape architecture at Harvard University between about 1900 and 1906. During that time, he also won awards for his amateur photography. One can well imagine him taking his camera to the summer home of friends and taking some casual pictures.

After graduation, he worked for Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects.  By 1913, he had established his own office in Philadelphia, from where he designed various types of landscapes in the mid-Atlantic region until the mid 1960s.

The Archives of American Gardens holds over 4,600 of his black and white glass negatives and glass lantern slides taken between c. 1900 and 1966.

Earlier this month, the Archives announced the acquisition of the Ken Druse Garden Photography Collection, which includes thousands of transparencies and slides of over 300 American gardens.  Selected images will eventually be added to the Smithsonian’s online catalogue.

Little girl. . . .

She has things to do,
you can tell. Places to explore
beyond the frame .  .  .

— Tami Haaland, from “Little Girl,” from When We Wake in the Night


*Used with permission.

The Heirloom Garden in early fall

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During the last week of September, I took a walk around the Heirloom Garden of the Museum of American History and was filled — once again — with admiration for the Smithsonian Institution’s horticulture division.

The garden — huge, raised planters, all the way around the building — contains a mix of open-pollinated plants cultivated in America prior to 1950. The perennials and annuals are anchored by crape myrtles and a variety of shrubs.

The space is very large, open, and — at the south entrance — crowded with tourists. Still, the beautiful long borders, which were being allowed to fade with fall naturally, offered a surprisingly intimate and even soulful experience.

You can see more Heirloom Garden pictures here.

One would have thought, (so cunningly the rude
And scorned partes were mingled with the fine,)
That Nature had for wantonesse ensude
Art, and that Art at Nature did repine;
So striving each th’ other to undermine,
Each did the others work more beautify;
So diff’ring both in wills agreed in fine:
So all agreed through sweete diversity,
This gardin to adorne with all variety.

— Edmund Spenser, from “In the Bower of Bliss”